Jeff Parker named Cattleman of Year

<p>2013 Cattleman of the Year Jeff Parker on his Highview Angus Ranch on Alder Slope near Enterprise.</p>

Jeff Parker, a Wallowa County native who grew up with the cattle industry on Alder Slope, was named Wallowa County Cattleman of the Year by the Wallowa County Stockgrowers Saturday night.

Parker was alternately praised and roasted by Todd Nash, a fellow member of the Enterprise High School class of 1980. Both Parker and Nash are former presidents of the Stockgrowers.

“I was shocked. I had no idea ahead of time,” Parker said about the award. He said while he was honored to receive it, what made the award extra special was being presented by his old friend.

““Everything I know I learned from someone else, including many of the people in this room,” Parker said while accepting the Cattleman award.

Jeff Parker was born in Wallowa County in 1961, growing up on the Highview cattle ranch near Enterprise, which was established in 1960 by his parents, Dave and Shirley Parker, and grandparents, Pete and Ingrid Peters. Along with older sisters Carol and Doreen, Parker grew up changing irrigation pipe, working on the ranch and showing cattle. Like them, he followed the lead set by his parents, who were pioneers in artificial insemination work. At age 15 he became fully involved in AI work.

“Jeff was as good an athlete as we had, but his deal was cattle. Jeff was a cattleman at a young age, and he took it very seriously,” said Nash, who joked he showed a lot of reserve champion cattle because of Parker while they were in FFA together.

Parker went on to Blue Mountain Community College, earning an associate’s degree in production agriculture and several awards, including Outstanding Agriculture Graduate Award.

Parker spent the summer managing a cattle ranch at Thane, Wyo., before going back to college at Cal Poly (California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo), where he received bachelor of science degree in animal science. While there he was president of the Boots-N- Spurs animal science club, and competed on “Cal Poly’s most successful livestock judging team ever,” according to Nash.

At Cal Poly, Parker also held positions as feed lot manager and a bull test manager, and was the first student to ever implement and manage an AI project on the university’s commercial herd. At graduation he was named Outstanding Senior in Animal Science.

After graduation from Cal Poly, Parker worked as a manufacturer representative in the animal health industry, traveling in nine western states.

“I put 100,000 miles on my car the first year, not counting when I rode with someone else or flew,” Parker said of that position which took him to ranches, and feedlots.

He later worked as a district sales manager and beef specialist in the AI industry, and then for four years was cattle operations manager of a ranch at Ellensburg, Wash., which was named national winner of the “Certified Angus Beef, Commitment to Excellence Award.” He was also manager of a ranch at Prineville.

Parker returned to his family’s ranch in Wallowa County after 17 years with his already developing herd of Angus in 1997 and a very broad background in the cattle business. By the 2000s he had leased the land, operation and the commercial cows from his family, and converted the entire herd to Angus. The Parkers received the Stockgrowers’ Grassman of the Year award in 2001 for their innovative management.

Parker points out that many of his old friends are active in the county’s cattle industry. In addition to Nash, classmate Philip Ketscher is a past Stockgrowers president, as is Charlie Warnock, who graduated the same year as they did in Joseph.

“This is home,” Parker said about his return to Wallowa County, which he said was always his ultimate goal. “But I enjoyed everywhere I lived.”

Also recognized at Saturday night’s dinner were Melvin and Mary Lou Brink, who were presented with the Honorary Stockgrowers Award by Mack Birkmaier.

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